Wooden Shjips – Back to Land
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
On their fourth full-length, San Francisco psych-rockers Wooden Shjips edge further away from their experimental berth. Sure, seven of Back to Land’s eight songs clock in north of five minutes. But this spit-shined slab of stoner rock basks in a more accessible light than anything in the Shjips’ past. The title track packs a sunny ’70s rock punch, while “These Shadows” flirts with the jangle-pop legacy of fellow Bay Area linchpins Brian Jonestown Massacre. Longtime Wooden Shjips fans can still get their space-rock kicks and open-road fix on “Ghouls” and “In the Roses,” however – and the Doors acolytes praying for the West Coast juggernaut’s second coming will go gaga over the jazzy swagger of “Ruins.” Three more characteristics make Back to Land stand out: psych-rock-as-aphrodisiac sexiness on “Servants,” intertwined acoustic-electric sadness on closing ballad “Everybody Knows,” and interlocking organ and guitar workouts sprinkled prodigiously throughout. Perhaps this Shjip actually sails best on its way Back To Land.